Washington, D.C. – With the House Energy and Commerce hearing on the Department of Energy’s budget taking place today, Anna Aurilio, director of Environment America’s D.C. office, issued the following statement:
“In recent years, we’ve seen global warming fuel record temperatures, stronger, more frequent storms like Superstorm Sandy, and devastating droughts throughout the Midwest.
“America’s buildings are responsible for nearly one-third of our global warming pollution. Energy efficiency programs are the fastest, cheapest and cleanest way to cut the pollution fueling global warming, and save consumers money at the same time. And renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will repower the country with truly clean energy.
“Congress would do well by building off President Obama’s FY14 budget for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
“Two key energy efficiency programs are the Weatherization Assistance and State Energy Programs. Unfortunately instead of supporting these vitally important pollution and money-saving programs, Congress has slashed both budgets in the past year.
“The Weatherization Assistance Program helps low-income families, seniors and individuals with disabilities make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. WAP has helped more than 6.4 million low-income households over the past 33 years, reducing their annual energy bills by an average of $437. A study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that for every $1 invested in the program, WAP returns $2.51 in benefits to the household and society.
“For the last 10 years, the Weatherization Assistance Program has received an average of $200 million to $250 million. However in FY12, Congress drastically slashed the allocation to $68 million – the lowest since the second year of the program in 1976. The abnormally low level of funding was continued with the Continuing Resolution for FY13. Without an increase in funding for FY14, it is unlikely that the Weatherization Assistance Program will be able to continue operating at all in some states.
“The FY 2014 Department of Energy budget requests $184 million for this program and Congress should make up for lost ground and improve on this by providing at least $200 million for this critical program.
“Congress should also fund the Department of Energy’s State Energy Program (SEP), which provides financial and technical assistance to states for developing strategies to address their energy priorities and adopt energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. SEP saves $256 million annually in reduced energy bills.
“Finally through the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), President Obama’s budget prioritizes increased funding for energy efficiency programs like the HomeStar program, the Building Technologies Program, and critical renewable energy programs such as the SunShot program.
“Clean energy and energy efficiency programs are vital global warming solutions we need right now. We’re counting on Congress to protect and strengthen these programs, and in so doing, also protect Americans’ health and environment.”